A year ago, the Edmonton Oilers had to dig deep for defenceman, nearly exhausting their replenishments in the minors.
Heading into this season, they don’t plan on getting caught short again.
Despite telling Sheldon Souray to take his stick, go home and wait for his trade request to be granted, the Oilers appear to be deep on the blue line.
Thursday’s exhibition contest against the Tampa Bay gave early indications of the level of their talent pool with strong performance from Kurtis Foster, Richard Petiot and Shawn Belle.
Petiot was especially impressive, considering few outside of those living in Daysland knew who he was.
“He’s a big guy who has good range and we knew a little bit about him,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “The fact that he’s been a minor league to date conjured up some interest in us, because we always thought he was a little better than that.
“Where this ends up, I’m not completely sure, but he had a good game, which warrants conversation and conversation that is deserved.”
With Tom Gilbert, Ryan Whitney, Ladislav Smid and Jason Strudwick being assured places, the Oilers have decisions to make on the remaining roster spots.
Renney is not sure if he plans on carrying seven or eight defenceman into the season, but either way, Belle, Petiot, James Vandermeer, Alex Plante, Theo Peckham and Taylor Chorney all appear to be making cases for themselves early on.
“It would be a joy to stay here, I’d love it,” Belle said. “That is my goal to play in the NHL and to be on a team like this, that has a lot of young guys that are up and coming. That would be something special.”